Now

Now: Breaking the Glass, The Vulnerability of Accepting Emotions

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There is a shift happening within me. A breathtakingly powerful yet sometimes painful altercation.  This movement has the potential to heal an intrinsic pain that I have carried for far too long. A vulnerability that I have yet to be able to fully understand myself, and verbalization of this aspect concludes impossible.

A glass wall. So thin and begging to be shattered. As the continuous wheel of heightened emotions and unexplained desperation of thoughts clutters my vision and overtakes my being~this wall grows thicker. Yet, in this moment, I see the slow diminishing of the barrier. One where my awareness and practice are beginning to meticulously chip away this hindrance; yet I desire a sledge hammer to accelerate this process. This operation of not only understanding but accepting fully…

My dogma: I desperately fear rejection and with that abandonment.

Without fully being aware this notion is one I have held within and struggled to admit. When evaluated, I find it to be core of the spiraling emotions that arise in a moment’s notice. One where when I fall too deep my reality is altered. I am unable to distinguish a calm and serine environment from a galaxy of mass chaos within. What feels as if full loss of control in these moments resulting in a crying out to not be left, yet pushing away any love provided in each of their various forms.  An internal battle of “this is not who I am” where I refuse to accept my emotions in turn causing a deeper struggle of self disapproval and guilt~ “I am doing it again.”

At this core is the question why? Where did this distress come from? A passionate desire to pinpoint the experience that rewired my being..

I was raised in an environment that above all valued unconditional love and a proven safe place to escape to at any moment. I was surrounded by selfless love and support for all dreams I held dear, desires I shared, and knowledge that after 30+ years of marriage my parents weren’t going anywhere. Nothing in this life that is remembered breeds a reason for this intrinsic fear. A voice sings songs of an experience from before.. something deeper than the beautiful life I have lived these past 29 years.

A continuation of my soul: my challenge for this life, yet not from this life.  To learn to accept that this is part of who I am and allow the emotions to arise without putting up a fight or strong emphasis on their welcome. Realizing that there is something  deeper that happened and in time the answers will shatter the glass wall and allowing freedom from within. Until that moment I  am learning to find calm in the mantra- I accept my emotions.

I will not fight you. You have proved stronger challenges since I have come to this conclusion.. all throughout the night in various forms and experiences yet you will not take over with vengeance as before. I know these experiences are not concluded. The time will come where you will rise from the flames and set my internal fire ablaze, yet at this moment I will find my space within to use the breath of acceptance to diminish this blaze.

I find gratitude in the process as I am learning a vital lesson~full love and acceptance of self.

Now: Letting Go of Perfection

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Surrounded by 13 seven and eight year olds I am reminded of the pressure of perfection. Today’s lesson: “Welcome to the Peaceful Palace”. Transforming our classroom into a safe space where they can reflect on themselves as complicated human beings.

Asking for new pieces of paper because their drawings are not just right. Questioning all aspects of the assignment in hopes that the result is that of being “correct”.

“Mistakes” so minute that to an onlooker ~ invisible as they are overtaken by the stresses vibrating from the student’s core. An explanation given that whatever they did in that moment is perfect, no need to change or erase, this is what they were supposed to do right now. Encouragement reigns in the form of letting go of that “hard on self” attitude and just practice self love and compassion.

The words that dance across the whiteboard describe our activity during these 40 minutes: “You are beautiful, strong, caring, sensitive, funny, shy… LOVE ”

~Welcome to the peace palace where we show silent respect for all those to focus on themselves.

~Come in and find a special space

~Draw a picture of yourself. Whatever that may mean, your interpretation.

~This is only for you… a secret between you and yourself”

When you are finished you may go into meditation. This is your time to just be.

For 30 minutes I watched quiet mindfulness arise throughout the classroom as small shards of perfectionism began to fade into the distance replaced by self acceptance. The interpretations of self in the form of pictures, words, and dedications to this assignment expressed to me MY true self. One to help students grow through activities such as these.

This space I share right now with these students is full of more power and positive energy than I could physically put into words. It is an emotion, so strong keeping it feels like a present shared between myself and these young minds. A moment in time that they remind me why I am here and watching them let go of the boundaries set on them– inturn allowing me to let go of mine .

 

Now: The Coffee Shop Complex

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As the expression of my thoughts strongly push their way to the forefront of my mind. A bypass in which I have secured all creativity; allowing not the embankment to break and the poetic prose to flow. I am stuck.  I stare at these three sentences, having restarted countless number of posts varying in titles and concepts. Yet I start again. In this present moment. Writing what I know and coming to a conclusion I have desired an answer too since these magical spaces became a truth in my actuality.

Here I sit, closest to the door, each swing awakens in me a breath of life due to the chill that stings my back. Admiring the man in shorts desperately digging through the vinyls so compressed his frame is adapted, as a wall, against their weight. Songs of French ring through the air as the “lady in black” is expressing a devout interest in each word that her counterpart expresses. This understanding shown through strong sense of body language. I admire this moment. The one where my attention is taken from the page to the white brick wall so densely covered with the art of musical geniuses from generations near and far. Headphones hang about the space, inviting in all who share this appreciation of connectivity through song. Each detail implemented to convey that of an old record shop serving contentment through simplicities, smiles, and an excellent cafe creme.

The coffee shop. When the world slows down a bit, and the concept analyzed, one will see the coffee shop is constructed to encourage connectivity among all: a place we find ourselves in others. Here we develop an understanding of the simple pleasures in life.

I have never taken the time to truly analyze my obsession with spending time in this atmosphere. No matter the country, I always find refuge in these spaces. As if they take me back to the pleasant realities of my past, allow me to truly observe, be present, and dream of possibilities of future. Here among these four walls it is encouraged that enlightening conversation be had, while falling into the fantasy of a writer’s mind, or trying to find inspiration to form vital thoughts, comes naturally.

The extensiveness of my manifestations come to play in these moments of gratitude and a desire to continue writing about them. In Bayonne, France I find my reality to be at this present moment. One where if I looked back five years ago the concept of being in a place so filled with art and love, while home being spread from Costa Rica to Kentucky still appears a dream. This space could be placed anywhere in the world, but here I am, taking a moment transpired into an hour to appreciate this fairytale. Where the architecture and art form in itself port me back to a world long ago; while the language spoken around sings of romance and paradox with the constant single tone my American ear has yet to decipher.

I still am in daily awe of the reality that is my life… and in moments of pure discord, I find a sense of being grounded in a space that’s concept is solid in all languages, lifestyles, and through a love of something so simple… coffee.

Now: Washing Away the Lines

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To pursue the commitment to be a teacher:  to share knowledge and fill young minds with ideals of love in order to grow our world into a more enlightened place. Encouraging confidence in who they are and not what they have. Inspiring them to appreciate the little things, along with the big. Refocusing them in hopes that they observe their lives as a gift: where each day their world is filled with experiences simply worthy of gratitude.

 A mutual choice. I chose to be a teacher, or did this beautifully creative challenge choose me?

Recently, these young beings have been the teachers. I have learned about how easy it is to override basic appreciate with heightened desires. To constantly want more and “what is” will never be able to satisfy. The frustrations that have accompanied these lessons have been consistently growing. I feel anger where empathy should lie. I dislike that I am unable to accept my own personal reality of what is – I am living in a system where more is the normal and less is unacceptable.

So that is my challenge. Encourage appreciation, community, love of self and equally of others. Oneness- where no matter how many “things” you possess; the value of self does not falter.

These where always my goals, yet I learned that I had my work cut out for me on a recent field trip. The concept of this trip: to build community between two different “types” of schools. The private and the public. Such a thick line drawn in the sand for these diverse environments, yet the students are just that.. students. Their love of soccer, Pokemon, scary stories, arts and crafts, watermelon, and excitement all meshed and corresponded perfectly to that of any second grader found around the world. Then why this rift between the “have” and the “have nots”? Why were some of the students able to appreciate every moment while others needed what they desired right at that moment. Without fail. The give me now attitude.  I found that while sharing was a main objective of this field trip, the demand required from some  was shocking. Patience shown and smiles on one side of the fence while impatience and desire rained on the other.

With this information digested it is now time to create ways in which showing the students that material items do not determine the value of a person, although the world might brainwash us differently. Goodness, truth, and our intrinsic value come from the self. It is found within the individual, and surrounding ourselves with souls from all “walks of life” makes us more predominately aware and relateable to those around us.

The most important lessons in life we learn from the lives of others.  From my teachers I was reminded of the gift of giving. Giving of ourselves to better the lives of others and giving of love to all those we come in contact with.

Love will allow the lines that we draw to be washed away and replaced by communities where we are not judged based on our haves but on our hearts.

Now: Writer’s Block

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Writer’s block : an accurately interesting concept. A moment in time where my mind and spirit have vast amounts of information and stories to share~yet unable to drift from “inside”  out~into the rest of the world, through the motion of fingers dancing on a keyboard. A moment of disconnect between the stories that were and the occasion that is.

A mindset that although is a relative concept and impermanent, feels so authentic. Thoughts that race with voices repeating ” How do I express all that is growing and shifting? How do I properly verbalize the emotions that validate recent events? To give authenticity to the life changes and nights staring at the sky where clarity reveals its face.”

As the “writer’s block” appears to continue these thoughts, stories and moments ravel into a tangled ball looking to be sorted and released. The medicine of meditation will help with this liberation of entanglement that is patiently waiting it’s freedom. Until then there is acceptance in what is: a quiet voice on the outside, striving to protect the loud voices within.

Now: I Vote: For the Idealism of Children

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A Facebook post set my morning on a different path, one filled with the idealist views of children. It guided my heart to the surface, and started a conversation with my students that lead to the empowerment of all.

Susan B. Anthony. Today, thousands of people (mostly women) are arriving at her grave to pay respect to a leader who fought for her beliefs. Equality. The fact that women should have a right to vote, and now we do. No matter one’s views today- the insight of a beautiful soul fighting for equality opened up the lines of communication and conspired into a powerful conversation held by 15 open-hearted 2nd graders and their teacher.

Shocked eyes filled the room as the simple fact that women used to not be able to vote was introduced to my little ones. They could not understand why things were not equal. . This transferred into a conversation about equality in individuals and our rights as beings. From the mouths of children you hear:

We have a right to love.

We have the right to be happy, to be equal, no person is better than another.

We want a leader that is kind, fair, loves ALL people, does not judge, does not bully, shares their crayons.

One that is respecting, friendly, picks up their trash, cares about our environment.

I told my students at the beginning of the year, no one person is better than another. I am not better and I am not smarter than them… I just have more experience (and I am older). I once sat right where they are, just in a different country and classroom.

These students understand pure love. They do not act on it all the time, but they understand what leadership is in the most simplistic sense of the word. Yet, as we grow older we are bombarded with every aspect of our world telling us what to believe, what to think.

To my fifteen 7 and 8 year olds,

I encourage you to listen to that constant beating truth inside of you. Take a moment to hear your truth. It will not lie and not faulter as it is YOUR truth. Yes, you will hear so many ideas and beliefs surrounding you. You can listen, but please in the end, there is only one choice. The one that comes from inside. If you believe in love and kindness- choose friends that fit those needs. If you believe in equality- treat all without judgement and keep that sacred. One day you will need to make very important decisions, do not forget these views as the beliefs you hold now are beautiful and true.

An idealistic world would be one run by children: where the only attacks we would have would be ones with hugs, arguments of love, and teaching through the act of meditation and mindfulness.

And my truth- having students keep these ideals within them and spread their truth with a voice as powerful as love itself.

Now: Mindfulness in Children

14721564_1801597840129204_3415128670002018220_n60 eyes are closed around the room showing respect for self and others. Deep breaths inhaled and as the exhale is released so is a bit of stress from earlier in the morning. Thoughts of love fill the room, a complete shift. Peace. All agitations from earlier are washed away, opening up my core to receiving that love as well.  The innocent are shifting my energy as I stroll among them.

As a teacher we wear many hats. On any given day they may vary from guardian to  guide, cheerleader to caregiver,   nurse to counselor, and comedian to disciplinarian. On those days that I tend to need just a moment, a chance to feel human- all hats are required on deck.

It is 9:00 am-Students and parents alike fill my hemisphere with questions and callings of “Ms. Carolyn” ring in the air just as my computer screen breaks. 5 minutes and counting before 30 students will grace my presences ready to learn about mindfulness and the practice of meditation, and I am the opposite of zen. My ears are ringing with words that at that moment sound of simple noise, my mind is cluttered with how am I going to get the music to play, and my body is racing out the door to meet the students who patiently wait in the hall. My stressfilled smile invites them in and ask that they sit nicely as I run to find another computer… and take the 30 seconds needed to clear my mind.

An open-heart conversation began our practice. Discussing the past, present, and future- using visuals to show how much we miss in life if we are constantly in the past (at Spanish class) or in the future (at snack). We talked about when we are constantly in the present we always get to the future without missing anything along the way. As we talked my own feelings of frustration and “overwelmedness” began to wither away.

Meditation: the act of calming the mind and connecting to the true Self.

Magic: Thirty 1st and 2nd graders sitting quietly fully connecting to self.

The breath, our vital connection to life. Seeing the rainbow rise from the grown to the top of their head and releasing through the front of their body back into the ground. Imagining their balloon filing with air and very slowly deflating as they release all worry from their bodies.

Our last minutes were spent on “Love”. Feeling, thinking, imagining and filling the room with this healing force. That is when it shifted. My hats were removed. All of them. Accept the one of passion where everything I adore and believe came rushing into the space. Where my best practices and most proud teaching came into play and I felt alive.

A circle: the shape of connectivity-oneness.  Hands stacked on top of each other, words of gratitude feel the air, shared compliments to our friends and self while feeling the community build in the room- our closing to a mindful practice.

A closing to the feeling of frustration that welled up within me throughout the morning. An opening to receiving the love that filled the classroom and came from near and far.

And now we entered the new present, and they are off to snack time…